Parkers overall rating: 2.5 out of 5 2.5

A version of the 2.8-litre CRD engine in the Nitro has been available in the Jeep Cherokee since 2002 so it's well proven, if not especially modern or refined. It produces 177bhp and plenty of pulling power low down giving it a decent 0-62mph time of 11.5 seconds with the standard clunky six-speed manual gearbox. Most buyers opt for the optional five-speed automatic - which actually gets more torque than the manual version and as a result is a second quicker from 0-62mph.

Although economy drops from 33mpg to 30mpg as a result. Dodge also offers a 3.7-litre V6 petrol model with 205bhp but while it's quiet, it feels sluggish and with a fuel economy of just 24mpg it's little surprise that only a handful of people choose it.

The handling is poor in the Nitro, not helped by the woefully vague, lifeless steering and excessive body roll in corners. It's marginally better on motorways, but even then the steering feels too light at the straight-ahead position. The ride is uncomfortable and the Nitro crashes over bumps and rough roads send vibrations through the cabin. The four-wheel drive set up is rather primitive.

The 2WD setting is rear-wheel drive, while switching to 4WD locks the front and rear axles together with 50/50 power distribution front and rear. It means 4WD shouldn't be selected on anything other than loose surfaces.